Horror, Television, Thriller

Chiller (1995)

Comments Off on Chiller (1995) 27 October 2013

Chiller

Studio: Yorkshire Television

Distributor: Synapse Films

Original Broadcast Schedule: March 9, 1995 – April 27, 1995

US Home Video Release: December 11, 2012

Rating: Not Rated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything so you don’t have to…including Chiller.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Synapse Films 2012 DVD release of the 1980 British anthology horror television series Hammer House of Horror (Read review here). I found the overall collection to be worth owning, especially for fans and collectors of anthology horror television. Synapse has a reputation for releasing rare titles, but treating them with the love and attention typically afforded only the most mainstream entertainment.

In December 2012, Synapse Films resurrected an even more obscure five episode UK television series, the 1995 anthology series Chiller. Did Synapse deliver another solid release and is the two-disc collection of Chiller episodes worth a spin?

Show Rating: ★★½☆☆

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Maybe I’m just a child of the eighties, or maybe I’m unfairly comparing my experience with Hammer House of Horror with Chiller. Either way, I found Chiller to be drier and more stereo-typically “British” compared to the more gruesome, fun, and mainstream Hammer. Chiller is, by and large, dull and forgettable. It’s not surprising that it only lasted for five episodes, especially considering that the 1990s produced far superior shows such as Tales From The Crypt, The X-Files, and even Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?

On the flip side, the show isn’t as bad as its very limited run may suggest. I’ve seen worse. Chiller does offer good production value (especially for 1995 standards), decent acting, and capable direction. As with Hammer, and many anthology shows like it, the weakest aspect is almost universally the writing. On the plus side, the episode themes and ideas are intriguing enough to warrant your attention most of the time. On the down side, the scripts can drag and all of the episodes feel like they over stay their welcome between 15-30 minutes, depending on the episode.

In my opinion, the series peaks out of the gate with the first episode “Prophecy”, gets progressively worse with each episode, until it bottoms out with the fourth episode “The Man Who Didn’t Believe In Ghosts”. Sadly still, the most intriguing aspect of the show is the opening title sequence which offers the promise of a “chilling” experience that never materializes in the episodes.

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Here are the five episodes synopses courtesy of the Synapse Films website:

PROPHECY: When a group of friends hold a séance in the basement of a London café, they each receive a prophecy. Five years later, the frightening prophecies begin to come true.

TOBY: Ray and Louise Knight tragically lose Toby, their unborn baby, in a car accident.  Louise soon discovers she’s pregnant again, but a routine scan reveals she is not… even though her body feels like she is!

HERE COMES THE MIRROR MAN: A social worker helps a young homeless man but may die trying, when she discovers her predecessor was murdered under mysterious circumstances.

THE MAN WHO DIDN’T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS: Richard Cramer, a professional de-bunker of the paranormal, moves into Windwhistle Hall with his family, only to find themselves involved in a series of unexplained events and accidents.

NUMBER SIX: In Helsby, a small Yorkshire town, police search desperately for a child killer.  Tied somehow to an ancient Druidic site, this killer may strike again at the next full moon.

At the risk of plagiarizing myself, I’ll close my thoughts for Chiller much the same way I did for Hammer House of Horror here. All in all, Chiller lands slightly below Hammer. At it’s best it has good production but still trails far behind the likes of Tales from the Crypt. For those familiar with shows like Freddy’s Nightmares, and Tales from the Darkside, Chiller exceeds these shows in production, but is equal in terms of overall story and entertainment value. But Freddy’s Nightmares, and Tales from the Darkside were smart enough to keep each tale of terror limited to 30 minutes or less.

Video & Audio Rating: ★★★☆☆

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The care and quality of the presentation matches what Synapse did with Hammer. Like Hammer, the DVD displays a 1.33:1 aspect ratio which replicates the original standard broadcast. Unlike Hammer, the images are not as vibrant, but this is more a reflection on the styles and techniques of the periods in which they originated. Chiller most definitely looks and feels like a product out of the mid-90s resembling your stock X-Files episode.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track with dialogue, sound effects, and music all clear and unassuming. My only criticism I can recall is during the episode “Toby” where a whale-song sound effect drowns out some dialogue. This is most likely not a Synapse issue but rather a problem with the original source tapes.

Extras Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Unlike The Complete Hammer House of Horrors set, Chiller sports zero special features. Perhaps I’m showing my bias toward Synapse Films, but I’m okay with this. Simply having the option to own Chiller in my anthology horror collection seems good enough, especially considering the episodes are “ho-hum” at best. If I really wanted to get nit-picky it would have been nice if Synapse could have included the same type of brief episode introductions found in the Hammer set, but again I don’t blame them for not going out of their way to produce this content.

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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It’s hard to avoid comparisons between Chiller and Hammer House of Horror. Both are short lived British anthology shows that most Americans have neither seen nor heard of and are seeing new life through Synapse Films distribution. Both are worth watching but if I had to choose between sets, go with Hammer hands down.

If you were iffy about picking up the Hammer House of Horror set by Synapse, then you will most likely want to pass on Chiller. It is dry, slow, and certainly won’t leave you feeling chilled. However, if you enjoy anthology horror television as much as I do, this set does includes five mildly entertaining episodes that will complement the rest of your collection.

About the author: James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed – popular, obscure, independent, etc. He’ll watch anything for you.

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- who has written 67 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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